US Troops Secure Kabul Airport, Begin Military Evac Flights For US Citizens

Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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U.S. troops have secured the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and flights are able to land and depart to evacuate American citizens and Afghan nationals, a White House official announced to pool reporters Tuesday.

The Kabul airport was a scene of chaos Monday morning as throngs of Afghans crowded the runways in an attempt to flee on American planes. The U.S. has now deployed 3,500 troops to their airport with more on the way, clearing the runways for regular landings and departures. (RELATED: 7 Killed In Kabul Airport As Chaos Ensues. Flights Suspended, Then Restarted)

“The Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKAI) is open, and flights are able to land and depart, including on the civilian side. As of this morning, there are 3,500 troops on the ground at HKAI. Today, U.S. military flights are taking off from HKAI with American citizens and U.S. Embassy personnel on board. Yesterday, we evacuated more than 700 people, including 150 American citizens,” the official said.

Biden’s administration has faced criticism for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan as the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government in a matter of days over the weekend. Biden spent the past several days in Delaware and Camp David, returning to the White House only briefly to deliver an update on the situation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki is also on vacation.  (RELATED: Taliban Fighters Enter Kabul After Afghan President Flees)

Many are comparing the withdrawal to the U.S. departure from Saigon, Vietnam, in 1975. Biden vowed earlier in August that Americans would not see Saigon-like images of U.S. aircraft evacuating amid chaos.

U.S. military officials say there will be a total of 4,000 U.S. troops at the airport by the end of Tuesday.

Pictures and video of Taliban fighters seizing U.S. weapons and military equipment have flooded social media in the wake of the Taliban’s rapid advance. The U.S. provided billions of dollars worth of military equipment to the Afghan military before its collapse.

“The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we anticipated,” President Joe Biden said on Monday.